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  Friends Committee on National Legislation  

Dear Ruth, 

Forty-nine years ago today, Phyllis Webstad walked into St. Joseph’s Mission Residential School in British Columbia for the first time. She was six years old and a tribal citizen of the Stswecem’c Xgat’tem First Nation. She wore a bright orange shirt from her grandmother. It gave her some sense of connection to home in this frightening new environment.

School officials took the shirt from her nearly immediately.  “The color orange has always reminded me of that and how my feelings didn’t matter, how no one cared, and how I felt like I was worth nothing,” Webstad told Native News Online. “All of us little children were crying, and no one cared.”

Nearly half a century later, we wear orange in honor of the National Day of Remembrance for Indian Boarding Schools; an occasion marked in both the United States and Canada.

FCNL staff wearing orange.

The issue of Native boarding schools might be familiar to you. For over a year now, FCNL’s Portia Kay^nthos Skenandore-Wheelock has raised awareness about this terrible chapter in the halls of Congress. FCNL advocates have sent more than 47,000 letters to lawmakers in support of the Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding School Policies in the United States Act (S. 2907/H.R. 5444).

It is important for Quakers to engage in this work. This is part of our own history. Friends ran some of these boarding schools, and we must face and reconcile the white supremacy, abuse, and cultural destruction at the core of these institutions.

This advocacy is vitally important, and we will continue to engage with it until Congress acts. But today, our call to you is simple: take a moment to lean into remembrance. The pain and suffering created by the U.S. government and Christian churches during the boarding school era is impossible to imagine for those who haven’t lived through it—yet we must try anyway.

Read this powerful reflection by Mary Annette Pember, whose mother survived one of these boarding schools. Read this column by FCNL’s Portia Kay^nthos Skenandore-Wheelock, on how the tragic legacy of boarding schools lives on today. Visit the website of the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition, which is helping lead the way for truth and healing.

Today, we remember. Tomorrow, we act.


Biden Maintains Refugee Cap
President Joe Biden announced that a maximum of 125,000 people could be admitted into the United States as refugees in the next 12 months. While FCNL sought a higher cap of 200,000, we are encouraged by this sustained commitment. The United States must now build the infrastructure needed to welcome as many people as possible.

Russia Stages Votes to Annex Ukrainian Territories
In an effort to move towards annexation, Russian-backed officials staged referendum votes in four occupied regions of Ukraine. The votes were denounced as illegitimate by Ukraine and its international partners.

Hurricane Ian Hits Florida
Hurricane Ian hit Florida this week and will make landfall in South Carolina today. The historic storm demolished homes and businesses, damaged infrastructure, and caused severe flooding. We hold all those impacted in the Light.

Short-Term Funding Bill Averts Shutdown
Congress passed an interim funding bill to keep the federal government open until mid-December. This continuing resolution gives lawmakers more time to finalize a broader budget agreement for fiscal year 2023.

The Human Tragedy of Cluster Bombs
Cluster bombs are indiscriminate weapons that kill civilians at high rates. Their impact was felt this week as the Russian military bombed Ukrainian towns, and their lasting effect continues in Syria, Laos, and beyond. While most of the world’s nations have banned them, the United States continues to allow their use. Read more from FCNL’s peacebuilding team.

Celebrate World Quaker Day
Oct. 2 marks World Quaker Day, an annual event celebrating the diversity of Quakerism worldwide. You are invited to connect in worship with Friends around the globe this Sunday. Sign up to join.

Jessie Palatucci


Jessie Palatucci

Director of Digital Communications

Alex Frandsen


Alex Frandsen

Communications Strategist

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